The residents of a housing estate in Co Clare have taken the unusual step of seeking to have a building owned by the State place on the register of derelict sites.
While Ennis was declared Ireland’s Tidiest Large Urban Centre in this years Tidy Towns competition, the controversial ESB electricity sub-station on the outskirts of the town was referenced in the adjudication report which described it as ‘grim’.
It has also emerged that there’s confusion over who actually owns the site on which the now decommissioned sub-station stands. The ESB has said it’s in the process of transferring the lease back to the local authority while Clare County Council confirmed the building is registered to the former Department of Industry and Commerce.
Frustrated residents of Knockaderry Grove in Ennis have described the site as being in a “deplorable condition” and despite repeatedly raising the issue with ESB Networks, they say nothing has been done.
Now, the Knockaderry Residents Association want the building inspected and placed on Clare County Council’s list of derelict buildings.
“Our complaint concerns the visual aesthetics of the site due to its deplorable condition. The condition of this site is not in line with the general area or nearby properties,” a resident’s association spokesman said.
Residents have had contact with the company every month since they first raised the issue.
However, having received no satisfactory response from the ESB, the resident’s association has applied to Clare County Council to have the site entered onto the Derelict Sites Register.
The spokesman added: “We have since become aware that another resident of Knockaderry Grove contacted the ESB some years ago concerning the same issues. On that occasion, the hedge was trimmed but no other works were carried out.
Locals have also rejected claims by ESB that there are ‘no funds available’ to carry out works there.
Ennis Fianna Fáil Councillor Mark Nestor visited the site recently and spoke with locals.
“Residents in the area have concerns regarding the unsightly appearance of the site. I would have issues also regarding the safety of the perimeter fencing, which is badly rusted and in some parts has jagged edges sticking out. I’m aware that a number of children live in the area and I would be concerned that if these safety issue were not addressed that someone could be injured,” Cllr Nestor said.
At a meeting of Clare County Council this week, in a motion submitted by Cllr Nestor, he called on the local authority “to engage with the ESB” regarding urgent maintenance and safety works needed to be carried out at the substation.
The motion was supported by Fine Gael Councillor Mary Howard who added: “It was disappointing to see it being referenced in the recent Tidy Towns evaluation for Ennis which described the site as ‘grim’.
We need to establish ownership of the site and the land surrounding it. At the very least the site should be screened off and removed if not being used. We need some answers and action and deal with this eyesore,” Cllr Howard added.
A spokesperson for ESB Networks confirmed: “ESB Networks has received correspondence from local residents in relation to this former substation site – which we have held on a long term lease – and takes on board their concerns. We are in the process of transferring the lease on the now decommissioned substation back to the local authority. As the paperwork on this transaction progresses, we will address any security or safety issues that arise in relation to the site.”
However, Clare County Council, who have also written to the ESB, says the building does not belong to the local authority and is registered to the (old) Department of Industry and Commerce.